Last month, Global News, a Canadian TV network, reported that a leaked 2017 intelligence document stated that the U.S.-based news site, Consortium News, was “part of a cyber-influence campaign directed by Russia.” The document came from the Communications Security Establishment (CSE), Canada’s version of the NSA.
In fact, the Consortium News article, written by independent Russian Ukrainian journalist Arina Tuskanova, did not come from Russian state sources and its key revelation was factually accurate: Chrystia Freeland, the country’s foreign minister, had dissembled about her grandfather’s past as an editor of a Nazi newspaper in occupied Poland during the World War II.
In her autobiography, Freeland presents her grandparents in the following way: “My maternal grandparents fled western Ukraine after Hitler and Stalin signed their non-aggression pact in 1939. They never dared to go back, but they stayed in close touch with their brothers and sisters and their families, who remained behind.”
In a 2016 tweet, Freeland claimed her grandfather had “worked hard to return freedom and democracy to Ukraine.”
In fact, Freeland’s grandfather, Mykhailo Chomiak, “faithfully served Nazi Germany right up to its surrender, and Chomiak’s family only moved to Canada after the Third Reich was defeated by the Soviet Union’s Red Army and its allies – the U.S. and Great Britain.”
According to Canadian sources, Chomiak graduated from Lviv University in western Ukraine with a Master’s Degree in Law and Political Science. He began a career with the Galician newspaper Dilo (Action), published in Lviv. After the start of World War II, the Nazi administration appointed Chomiak to be editor of the newspaper Krakivski Visti (News of Krakow).
So the truth appears to be that Chomiak moved from Ukraine to Nazi-occupied Poland in order to work for the Third Reich under the command of Governor-General Hans Frank, the man who organized the Holocaust in Poland. Chomiak’s work was directly supervised by Emil Gassner, the head of the press department in the Polish General Government.
The fact that pro-Putin Russian media picked up on the Consortium News story doesn’t mean it was inaccurate or unfair. Freeland has never acknowledged that her grandfather was a Nazi collaborator. In 2017 she suggested that the story was part of a Russian disinformation campaign, with the implication that it couldn’t be trusted.
However, the Toronto Globe and Mail confirmed the story was true, and that Freeland had long known of her father’s service to the Nazis. Freeland now says her grandfather’ story is “painful,” and continues to insinuate that the Consortium New sstory was Russian disinformation. The CSE document makes the same claim.
There’s no evidence to support the allegation. I disagree with Consortium News analysis of Russian intelligence activities in the United States–I think there’s a real threat. But the site is not controlled, or influenced, by Russian state organizations. Criticism of Freeland and Western intelligence agencies is not evidence of Russian influence.
CN is contemplating legal action.
Consortium News has sent libel notices to the Communications Security Establishment (CSE), Canada’s version of the U.S. National Security Agency, and to a major Canadian television network, Global News, for a report that said Consortium News was “part of a cyber-influence campaign directed by Russia.”